ANDY FISH is a comic book artist

Monday, February 17, 2014

Sexual Harassment in the Comic Book Industry

In an industry where this kind of crap sells great, how can there not be problems?
Got this in from a fellow creator looking for advice-- and sadly she is not alone.  There is a fair amount of this going on, especially directed at young men or women trying to enter the field.  I answered them personally but I thought there might be others with the same problem:

Hi Andy
I had a bad experience last year when a pro in the industry approached me expressing a lot of interest in my work, then turned around and spent months sexually harassing me through a social media site, never mentioning my work again. 

I did get the situation shut down, but I'm a pretty skeeved out by the whole experience.

So I guess I'm just asking... do you have any ideas for identifying when someone is genuinely interested in my work, and when they're just using it (and their pro status) as leverage to try to hit on you? 

I would really like to save the time and stress not having to deal with things like that. I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on how to deal with the harassment itself (being as professional as possible without being cold, shutting down flirting as soon as i notice it, bringing up the fact I have a significant other as soon as possible, taking notes and reporting behavior if it crosses the line into harassment, etc) but it still happens sometimes.

It's annoying and frustrating to have to put so much brain-space into all of that, and the last thing I want to do is become jaded and put people off that genuinely do just want to talk shop.  Any advice?

Annoying and frustrating to say the least!

It's rare, but unfortunately a lot of the pro's are just fanboys with talent who got jobs.  You can't always recognize skeev when you first see it but it'll become more noticeable.

I agree with you to be careful about crossing the flirting line, but sometimes one person's banter is another person's come on-- remember you're dealing with a lot of guys who's experience with women is from Battlestar Galactica.  The second ANY kind of harrassment starts mention your uncle in law enforcement, which is usually enough to scare them off.  Not a lot of bravery among them.

All right-- FIRST and foremost-- the ONLY ones who can ever help you are EDITORS.  That's it.  A pro cannot.  A pro can recommend you to an editor, but there's NEVER a reason they would have to do anything but give you an editors email.  A Pro can't hire you or even get you a gig.  Even big name writers.  They may tell you they can ask for you on a project, but again all decisions go through editors.

All right-- does that mean an Editor won't hit on you?  No.  But it's FAR less likely.  They can lose their job if they do.

Boiling it down-- ANY one offering you help should instantly set off a flag that says to you "WHY?"  Why are they helping you?
What's in it for them?

For an editor-- that's their job, to find new talent.

For a fellow pro-- there's far less reason they'd help you.  So that you can get hired on a book they might have worked on?  Doesn't seem likely.

Pro Status means bubkiss too.  Today's superstar is tomorrow's Who?!  So don't let someone convince you otherwise.

Fanboys don't know how to talk to women, and they certainly don't want to deal with a husband or a significant other.  You can always try "My fiancee...." as a response to any initial offer.  The legit ones won't be shaken off.

Sounds like a lousy way to go about it, but it works.
Very sorry it happened to you.